Sheringham is a small seaside town situated in the Norfolk County, Eastern UK. Along the years, the Sheringham Youth Hostel has been the place where UK sangha gathered for various sesshins. This year was not an exception. So 12 days ago, on the 12th of Febuary, Taiun Jean-Pierre Faure came to Sheringham to conduct a prolonged weekend sesshion.
Jean-Pierre started practicing Zen in 1977 and was ordinated as a monk by his master, Taisen Deshimaru, in 1981. He also made several visits to Japan, becoming the disciple of Donin Minamizawa Roshi, vice-zenji of Eiheiji temple, from whom he received Dharma transmission in 2003. With the help of his disciples he founded in 2002 the Zen monastery Kanshoji. Today, he is The Abbot of this temple.
The Sheringham Sesshin started from Tuesday and ended on Monday. Now, being a practitioner that comes from the Eastern European lineage I’ve noticed a few differences. The one that struck me the most was that we never ate in the dojo. It was always in the special dining room. Apart from that and some small adaptations to the environment the whole structure of the sesshin was pretty much the same with what I’ve been used to.
I don’t want to bother you too much with my personal reflections, I just want to say that for me it was a good thing to be part of the sesshin and to practice with a UK sangha that is struggling to find its own path within the Zen universe.
So, I’ll let you read a few of the many aspects that have been treated by Jean-Pierre on a faraway seaside town and hopefully admire a picture that I took while Saturday break to a seagull driven by the ruthless North Sea winds.
Jean-Pierre’s reflections on
Buddha does not follow any influence. Buddha does not follow any passion. Buddha does not hope any fame or money.
In kinhin we go nowhere.
Buddha way means that anything is now. Everywhere, in each action we can return to the pure existence.
If we have not the faith, we try to find solutions because we don’t want to abandon our egoistic strategy. Not ego. One cannot abandon ego, but strategy based on only me and mine.
We have to look for the true thinking, which is thinking from non-thinking. This is not a thought which continues while we try to find a solution. This is just, at each moment, a thought, which comes from the non-thought.
We are children of the universe and we don’t follow exactly the law of the universe. We just think that we follow the laws of the universe which are interdependence and impermanence. And our way of living does not include at each moment interdependence and impermanence. So, we make little mistakes.
The true mind is absolute, unthinkable, unconceivable … which exists only in the present, which has no duration.
We always have to return to non-thinking, which means to be one with the situation … and while that happens a new thought appears. Than to return means to be in time, synchronized with the situation, because just after the new thought appears the situation has changed, so the image has changed. So if we are attached to this image we are separated from the reality.
Some think that they can solve some situations only by studying the mind, as a scientist studies the mind. In other word, being in duality. I am the subject and my mind is the object … this is an artifice … a form … we can use the form in our lives, but to live without avidity, without greed, without …
In all the forms there is an essence, there is Buddha.
Sometimes is good to use its own way … but for the three treasures: for all the existences which means Buddha, for a good way of practicing which means Dharma, for mankind which means sangha.
Inside all the forms there is absolute – this is nothingness.
The religion in general means power, but the true religion means love.
Beyond our though, there is the true reality. And we have veneration for the true reality, even though we cannot have any idea, even if we cannot represent … we should not confuse representation with reality.
Ego is not something; ego is only functioning … is when I decide to split the reality from me and the rest of the world. Because this is happening very fast we believe that there is something that lasts. We call this ego. But we have the experience in Zazen and we can see that something like this does not exist, something like a substantial ego during Zazen.
I belong to Buddha. I am not separated. So, my capacity of human being, to create reflection, to be in duality, what we call ego, can be used in the Buddha way.
The strong will is a good thing, but without following the 3 poisons of ignorance, greed and aversion, but to follow the 3 treasures Buddha, Dharma, Shanga.
It is normal to live in duality and in unity in the same time. We have nothing to do. We have nothing …
Even if you have an image of a situation in the same time the life of Buddha is present … in the same time … the problem begins when you want to use this image, this representation, only for you, because you are afraid, because you are lacking something and so on. Than you have an image and you start to climb on it. That’s where your egoism starts and then you develop a strategy. That’s why in Zazen it is though that we have to ‘Let pass.’ We don’t have to kill the idea, we don’t have to prevent the idea, its just – appear and disappear.
Good and bad
Sometimes you do good things and bad things. But when the retribution for the bad things arrives, don’t accuse the skies. You have to pay? Yes. I have to eat this bitter situation. You did good things and you did at the same time bad things, so you have to eat the bitter retribution. And very often people don’t accept this, and they enter into the sufferance.
The absolute is not outside the creation. The universe it creates itself at each moment. The creators are the creation. So we are responsible of everything.